Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Changing High Street

Not a day goes by without some big High

The technological ipod age could have serious impact on the High street and change it beyond recognition in the next 2 decades.

It seems not a day goes by without some big retail name closing down - Woolworths, Zappis (former Virgin records), Adams. We can attribute both partly to the recession. But, a recession is often short term catalyst for highlighting long term declining performance. Woolworths lacked a focus - it became a jack of all trades master of none. If you want cheap clothes why not go to a cheap clothes specialist like Matalan? If you want to buy a CD, why not go to a proper music shop?

Of course, people are not even going to proper record shops. The ipod and internet have changed the way people 'buy' music. I often ask my students how they buy music; they usually respond like if I had asked them - "Where do they still buy 7" singles?" My students often say they don't buy music as if it was something perfectly natural and why did people ever buy it? With this kind of attitude to buying music, it is not surprising that music shops, like video rental will soon be on the way out.

Will This Increase Unemployment?

The internet will change the nature of the high street. They will be a rise in unemployment as record shops close down. This unemployment will last longer because of the current recession. But, the rise in unemployment will not be permanent. As jobs are lost in one industry they will be created in others. It is hard to predict the future high street. But, I would expect some shops / services to do well.
  • Cafes with wireless access
  • Cinemas. The Rental video nearly killed off the cinema in the 1970s and 1980s. But, recent evidence suggests that despite the fact you could download any film from internet, people still like the event of going into town paying £5 and watching a film in a cinema. Yes, we could download it for free and watch it on a flat screen, but, man is a social animal.
The 'digital age' could have a profound impact on the high street and it is difficult to predict how it will look in 2 years time let alone 10 years time.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You mention Cinema's are likely to be (relatively) successful. It seems to me this is the same for movies as live shows are for music. As people download more and more, their demand for the live experience, the 'real thing' will rise. Hence why gig tickets appear to be getting dearer - the artists and record companies need to recoup funds previously gained from record sale revenue, and they can raise prices to match demand.